- What research tells me this investment is good?
- How can you ensure quality?
- What difference will my investment make?
We asked leaders across the country about approaches that work to convince influencers to support afterschool.
Here's what they said.
Funders and policymakers love data, so it makes a compelling argument for investing in high-quality afterschool programs. Dallas Afterschool has strong evidence for the value of these investments. Students in our programs on average make greater improvements in math and reading than matched peers outside of our programs. Our research reveals that primary-grade students attending high-quality afterschool programs experience greater than average gains in reading.
Program quality is critical to these impacts. We work diligently to support program quality by providing technical assistance to our partners as a part of our Program Quality Initiative. New evidence highlights the positive impact of this intervention. Our research, conducted in partnership with Southern Methodist University, indicates that when accounting for a program's initial quality scores, higher total hours of technical assistance predicts higher overall quality on our Afterschool Quality Advancement assessment tool.
This makes a convincing case for the difference high-quality afterschool programs can make in young people's lives.
—Lauren Ammons, Dallas Afterschool
The primary driver of investments is the WHY behind the work, rather than the HOW or WHAT. With all the choices they are faced with daily, the most compelling financial solicitations consist of powerful, narrative emotional appeals.
This blog excerpt is an example:
Ms. Davis's first grade class' eyes grew wider and wider as we walked through the Mississippi Natural Science Museum. Each section of the museum echoed with "Oh! Look at this!" and "What kind of animal is this?" The kids' curiosity was contagious.
Operation Shoestring's afterschool program creates enriching learning experiences because our children, families and community deserve the opportunity to become high-quality learners—individuals with a greater understanding of themselves and their connection to the world around them.
Investors need to know their money is contributing to a cause with impact. Give them a peek inside your program. Use a narrative to convince them the WHY is worth their investment.
—Amber May, Operation Shoestring
While content across afterschool programs varies, one consistent indicator of quality is use of a quality improvement system, such as the Weikart Center's Youth Program Quality Assessment.
Afterschool programming in Baltimore City is critical to keeping kids safe while leveling the academic playing field. Most programs operate between 3 and 6 p.m., identified as a time when unsupervised youth are most likely to be victims or perpetrators of crime. Research shows that afterschool programs improve youth behavior, attendance and academics.
Investors looking to make an impact should consider partnering with afterschool programs engaged in continuous quality improvement. Such investments assist organizations in providing youth with access to quality programming—the programming that makes a difference.
—Kashay Hampton, Family League of Baltimore
This article originally appeared in AfterSchool Today.